The Jazz is Even Sweeter This Week

Elizabeth Bluemle -- June 19th, 2018

Children’s Institute is one of my favorite book events of the year. It’s a conference that gathers booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, authors, and illustrators passionate about books for children and teens. We know that, in addition to including the most rewarding and inventive of books imaginable, children’s books are also the segment of the book industry most helping to keep the whole darned machine afloat. Children’s Institute, with its author parties, educational sessions, keynotes with luminaries like Chelsea Clinton, Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson, Phoebe Yeh, Kwame Alexander, Temple Grandin, and Angie Thomas, is a great big party / work-inspiration fest filled with some of the best people on the planet—which is why I am bereft that I am not able to be on a plane to New Orleans this week.

Events conspired to keep me from attending this year, which is a colossal bummer! My fellow ShelfTalker blogger pals doubtless will fill you in on the week’s grand activities. What I have to offer instead is this: seven things I’ll do to distract myself from the fact that I am not actually in The Big Easy and to create my own version of Children’s Institute here at home:

    • Pretend I’m there. I’ve re-nicknamed my city the Teeny Tough. Burlington, Vermont has leapt into summer with a vengeance, with 90-degree weather and 92% humidity that rivals June in New Orleans. I’m just going to pretend I’m there by sweating profusely and drinking cocktails on the sidewalk. We did just wrap up 10 days of Jazzfest, and there might be a musician or two still hanging around lighting up clubs. And maybe I’ll ramble around downtown in search of powdered doughnuts (there’s no hope of beignets) and pralines. We’ll see how far that gets me.
    • Telepathically beam myself into the “Reaching Underserved Communities” workshop. This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, so I’m crossing my fingers that someone attending CI will take great notes and share those with me.
    • Re-create my own version of “Speed Dating” by cracking down on myself to reconvene the casual VT children’s authors & illustrators potluck brunch we used to have on the second Sunday of every month. I’ve been meaning to get this going again, and by midday Wednesday, my goal is to set a date and invite the gang. It’s always fun, and dang, children’s book people are good bakers!
    • Instead of attending the workshop on “Planning and Executing Large-Scale Events” (something I have done many times over the years, so I might be okay on that one), I will actually *be* planning a large-scale event for fall that requires tracking down a new venue. Our beloved Town Hall is undergoing renovations until spring, so we are getting creative in the hiatus with vineyards, museums, barns, churches, theaters, and other spots that might welcome big groups without breaking the bank.
    • Sell books at a couple of offsite events. I can’t really pretend this is a substitute for the session on “Pop-Up Stores” that I’d like to attend, but I literally will be popping up at those events, with books to sell, so let’s just call this one even.
    • Teleport an ARC of Angie Thomas’s On the Come Up to myself, since it surely BE THERE and I WON’T. Hint hint, HarperCollins!
    • Bribe a bookseller friend to Skype me in on Thursday morning so I can hear the panel discussion with Cheryl and Wade Hudson, Phoebe Yeh, and Kwame Alexander titled, “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices!”

And on my playlist all week long? I’ll be listening to Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Nina Simone, Jelly Roll Morton, and Queen Ida.

If you’re heading to Children’s Institute, please add my measure of enjoyment to your own and have a blast! If you like, share your favorite moments in the comments below. I am dandy with vicarious living.

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